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Hovercraft Shop Vac 

Make] Projects 

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build, hack, tweak, share, discover,- 

Hovercraft Shop Vac 

Written By: Bill Wells 


Electric drill (1) 

Hammer (1) 

Heavy scissors or utility knife (1) 
to cut the foam strip 

Hole saw (1) 
or jigsaw 


Shop vacuum (1) 

Any type that has a separate exhaust 
port will probably work. I used a 12gal 
Shop-Vac Pro, a standard size sold at 
hardware stores. It's got 5HP peak 

Round MDF disk (1) 

sold in home centers in the pre-cut 
plywood section 

Shop vacuum hose (1) 

In addition to the hose you use for 
vacuuming, you need this sparehose to 


connect the'vac's air discharge to the 
hovercraft deck. This is the standard 
hose that comes with the larger 
vacuums, available in home centers or 
online. The nozzle diameter is actually 
2 1 A". 

Universal dust port (1) 

/ used a 2 1 A>" port from (item 
#92031). but your hose size may vary. 

Foam strip (1) 

for the hovercraft skirting. This may 
have to be scrounged; I cut mine from 
an old exercise mat. 

Nails (36) 
Wood screws (1) 


I have owned several shop vacuum cleaners, but regardless of the make, I never liked the 

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Hovercraft Shop Vac 

way the casters worked. They never rolled where I wanted them to. 

When I recently had to replace a worn-out shop vacuum, I looked for a way to improve the 
mobility of the new machine. That's when I realized that the vacuum's discharge air might be 
away to do this. 

I decided to make the vacuum self-levitating, to turn it into a hovercraft. Then it would just 
obediently float along the floor behind me. 

Here's how I did it. 

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Hovercraft Shop Vac 

Step 1 — Mount the vacuum to the hovercraft deck. 

• First I bought a %"-thick x 24"-diameter MDF disk at a local home center, and attached my 
new vacuum, without wheels, to the center of the disk with a few Vfc" wood screws. 

• The canister is made of plastic, and the screws can be driven right through the bottom into 
the MDF. Don't worry about the holes in the canister; they're small and could easily be 
patched later. 

Step 2 — Install the hover hose. 

• I used a hole saw to cut a 2"- 
diameter hole in the disk, and used 
more wood screws to attach a 2V2" 
universal dust port fitting for 
connecting a hose. 

• I had kept the hose from my old 
vacuum, so I used it to connect the 
air discharge on the new vacuum to 
the new fitting on the deck. It's a 
standard 8'-long, 2 1 /2 n -diameter 
Shop- Vac hose, which I wound 
around the canister so that I 
wouldn't have to cut the hose. 

• The hose only needs to be about 2' 
long; if you cut it down, be sure to 
use the threaded end to connect to 
the vacuum's discharge port. 

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Hovercraft Shop Vac 

Step 3 — Make the hover skirt. 

1 Foam strip 

^— 1 _ 

f^?T~ ^\ 

il L^^*9P^^1 I | 

1 2" dia. hole 1 24" dia. MD F disk 

• Making and attaching the skirt is the only challenging part. The skirt needs to be strong 
enough to support the vacuum when it's not in operation, but flexible enough to form a seal 
to hold in the air when hovering. 

• After some experimenting, I cut a IV2" wide strip from an old VfeMhick exercise mat, but 
similar material will do. I attached the skirt using 1" roofing nails spaced about 2" apart. 
Other small nails will work fine also, but don't use anything under 1" length. 

• If you cut the skirting material carefully, it will be straight enough to create a good air 
cushion for the vac to float on. 

• A schematic cross section view of the deck and foam skirt is shown in the last figure. 

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Hovercraft Shop Vac 

Step 4 

• I was initially concerned that performance of the vacuum might be affected by partially 
restricting the air discharge. This proved not to be an issue, as the suction and volume of 
air through the vacuum are the same now as before I turned it into a hovercraft. 

• As I had hoped, the vacuum now effortlessly floats along the garage floor behind me on its 
own cushion of air. As you might expect, it works best on uncarpeted floors. Come along, 
my little shop vac hovercraft. 

This project first appeared in MAKE Volume 29 . 

This document was last generated on 201 3-01 -28 01 :56:46 PM. 

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